Willow/Tara

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Pairing
Pairing: Willow Rosenberg/Tara Maclay
Alternative name(s):
Gender category: femslash
Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Canonical?: yes
Prevalence: high
Archives: The Kitten Board
Other:
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Willow/Tara is a popular canon femslash pairing in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom between Willow Rosenberg and Tara Maclay.

Canon

Willow and Tara's relationship was not introduced until season 4 of Buffy, alongside Tara's characters. The two meet at college and quickly bound over both being witches and their interest for magic in general. The relationship comes to a head when Willow's ex-boyfriend Oz comes back to Sunnydale after claiming to be able to control his werewolf side, a problem that had previously lead to breakup. Faced with her growing feeling for Tara, Willow chooses not to get back together with Oz and instead starts dating Tara.

The two remain a stable couple throughout the seasons, however they do break up for a time after Willow is seen to be abusing her magic, something that Tara strongly disagrees with. Once Willow works through her addiction to magic she and Tara get back together, only for Tara to be killed by a stray bullet in front of Willow.

Fannish Opinion

From the Willow/Tara shipper's manifesto:

From their first meeting, these two obviously had a lot in common. Over the next few years, we would share their journey through tragedy and heartbreak, and joy and the promise of reconciliation. Their love was obvious, as well as their devotion. Many believe they had the strongest and healthiest relationship in the Buffyverse.[1]

In stormwreath's What people were saying about Willow/Tara back in 1999... post, they searched archives for alt-tv-buffy-v-slayer for 1999/2000 to see what the fannish opinion was when season 4 was first airing.

Some people were seeing the subtext the moment 'Hush' was aired:
It's not just that they held hands. It was the entire scene -- Willow is startled by Tara's touch, Tara's hand slips underneath hers, they lace their fingers, Tara has this "dare I hope?" expression on her face. The lesbian claims are not just wishful thinking. They might not be right, but neither are they completely without basis.
Particularly since they were being chased by freaky floating guys. I'd have thought they would have been a lot more anxious. (If that were the main emotion to convey, I would have had Tara forcefully grab Willow's hand, shake it a couple of times as if to say, concentrate! But they didn't stage it that way.) The only non-sensual explanation I can come up with is that Tara was tentative; the slow groping expressed hesitation about using her power and not something sensual. Personally, I'm going with the sensual explanation until the show demonstrates to the contrary. It fits the staging, it fits the final conversation between Tara and Willow, it fits with alt.Willow.

(I assume 'alt.Willow is a reference to vampire!Willow from 'Doppelgangland' and the whole "I thnk I'm kinda gay!" controversy. I'm also a bit boggled by the idea of Tara, of all people, forcefully grabbing Willow's hand and shaking it and saying "Concentrate!". *g* But this was her first appearance on the show.)

That doesn't mean Tara's a potential love interest, of course, but my first thought after they slammed the drink machine against the door was "climax". I'll take the subtext even further and point out the same thing I did with Spike earlier this season. If Willow IS attracted to Tara, notice the girl she's attracted to is a powerful blonde?

[...]

But not everybody was convinced:

Is this the wetdream of little Buffy fanboys? I watched "Hush" last night and didn't derive any lesbian hinting whatsoever. Willow found a "kindred spirit-witch" and a good friend, that's all. Ok fanboys, here's a lesson on women...just because they hold hands, hug, or even kiss does not mean they are lesbians.
Why are you so eager to see a lesbian Willow? It seems that you are the one who is reaching here. This is the 4th season for Gods sake, don't you think it would have come out by now. My prediction is that this is going to be debated until the final episode of the last season. If Joss wanted Willow to be lesbian then don't you think he could manage to write this into a script? The only way Willow is going to turn out to be lesbian is if the ratings get so low that they think this would boost them up. And right after that they would probably kill off the Willow character.
But you know, any intense scene between 2 women MUST mean they're budding lesbians.

Which got other people annoyed:

I'm just curious why some people seem *SO* desperate to see no subtext whatsoever between Tara and Willow. Some people seem just as evangelical in their determination NOT to see anything remotely readable as subtext, as those who preach for it. I'm seeing lots of posts starting along the lines of... "I have nothing against Lesbianism... BUT..."[2]

This back and forth trend continued until the relationship became canon, which was met with much celebration from fans of the ship and of the show alike.

Fandom

Willow/Tara became the most popular femslash ship on Buffy, a position previously held by Buffy/Faith.

Notable Fanworks

Fanfiction

Fanart

Meta

Podcast

Archives & Fan Sites

Communities

References

  1. Willow Rosenberg/Tara Maclay (Buffyverse)
  2. What people were saying about Willow/Tara back in 1999...